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From Roommates to Great Friends: Stories of Friendship on the MV Explorer

Photos by Melinda La Brie

Dary Burgos & Ashlynn Valicoff

Ashlynn Valicoff, a landscape architecture senior from the University of Washington, and Dary Burgos, an art management senior from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, met as roommates on the MV Explorer and have quickly become great friends.

Though they travel often together in port, they also use their time in the cabin to discuss their past and the world around them.

‚ÄúWe‚Äôll talk forever, sitting in our sweat pants and then fall asleep,‚Äù Valicoff said. ‚ÄúI probably have learned more from Dary‚Äôs stories about her home back in the Dominican Republic than I would have learned from others.”

Likewise, Burgos said she’s gained a lot of knowledge from Valicoff. “Her family is in its fourth generation of farming,” Burgos said.

To add to their closeness, the two have found another link–both of their brothers traveled together in the Spring 2009 SAS voyage.

“It would be weird if they were roommates too, and didn’t tell us,” Burgos said, laughing.


Photos by Melinda La Brie

Will Tisdale & Chris Fugiel

Will Tisdale, an economics freshman from Texas State University, and Chris Fugiel, an international business junior from Elmhurst College in Illinois, were introduced to one another by their parents who met during the Bon Voyage reception in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“Our dads met and we all ended up going out together and they introduced us,” said Tisdale. “We were just joking around, saying ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we ended up being roommates?'”

As fate would have it, they did. The two have become fast friends, who share a lot in common: the same friends on the ship, the same interest in traveling, and the same passion for Chipotle.

“We’re Chipotle’s number one fans,” said Fugiel, laughing. “We found them in London and in Paris.”

Though they live miles away from one another, these great friends are already planning on meeting up again, likely next summer.


Photos by Melinda La Brie

Vladimir Zoubine & Sean Harrington

Vladimir Zoubine, a biological sciences junior from the University of Massachusetts Boston and Sean Harrington, a finance junior from Bentley University, live 20 minutes away from each other in Massachusetts, but didn’t meet until they were placed as roommates on Semester at Sea.

“Our high schools used to play against each other in our sports,” said Harrington. “We had never met, never knew each other, but we clicked right away.”

Though the two are very different, their personalities have work well together, and each say they have learned a lot from the other.

“We have very different tastes, very different attitudes and we’re very different people,” Harrington said. “But, we find holes in one another and we learn a lot about ourselves through one another. There’s very rarely a dull moment with Vladimir Zoubine.”


Photos by Melinda La Brie

Estefania Morera Mendez & Tanja Odobasic

Estefania Morera Mendez, a senior political science and transnational studies double major at Westminster College (Missouri), and Tanja Odobasic, a senior economics and entrepreneurship double major at the University of Osijek in Croatia are perfectly matched, talkative roommates that enjoy spending time together. “I was trying to find my room and I asked one of the work study students; she saw my ID and started jumping up and down because we were roommates,” Odobasic said.

“I asked for a break and we talked all the way down to the room,” said Mendez.

Their friendship has extended far beyond the ship, “We spend at least one day together in each port. Usually, I drink coffee and Tanja writes postcards. We have pictures of this in every port.”

These coffee and writing sessions have become their favorite tradition. “It was raining in South Africa and we sat there for three hours. It was one of those rare moments when we talked about our lives before Semester at Sea,” Odobasic said.

The ladies are learning new things from each other every day. Tanja is teaching Estefania Croatian, and Estefania is teaching Tanja Spanish. In general, though, they love talking, no matter what language it’s in. “We’re noisy. You will know where we are at all times; we talk and laugh all the time,” Mendez said.

Even with their vibrant personalities and gifts of gab, Tanja and Estefania are just two regular college students at heart. ” Our alarm clock is a penguin named Blanco who has a hat as a snooze button,” said Mendez. “Every time the alarm goes off, Tanja says, ‘who wakes up first?’ and I say, ‘the person who went to bed earliest.’ which is always Tanja.”

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